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Number of initial unemployment claims declining

As it is nearly statewide, initial unemployment claims filed in the region have dropped for the second straight week.

In Suffolk, there were 718 initial unemployment claims filed for the week ending April 18, down 163 from the previous week.

In Isle of Wight County over the same time period, initial unemployment claims went down from 321 to 243, while in Franklin, initial claims dropped by 20 from 101 to 81. In Southampton County, initial claims went down by 31 from 87 to 56.

Since March 14, there have been 6,453 initial claims filed in Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Franklin and Southampton — nearly 64 percent of those coming in Suffolk and another 24 percent from Isle of Wight.

The statewide unemployment rate is on pace to reach nearly 11 percent by the end of the month if layoffs continue at their current pace, according to Old Dominion University’s Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy.

While 4.4 million people have filed initial unemployment claims across the country for the week ending April 18, that is a decline of 810,000 claims from the previous week, as more than 24 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance in the past five weeks. That number representing about 14 percent of the U.S. workforce.

In Virginia, non-seasonally adjusted unemployment claims numbered 84,837 for the same period, down 19,782 from the previous week. Nearly 500,000 people in Virginia — about one in every nine workers in the state — have filed for unemployment insurance.

Continued claims have increased by 276,641 people from March 21 through April 18, with 410,762 Virginia residents overall filing initial claims during the same time period.

The Dragas Center said many state unemployment programs have become overwhelmed by the unprecedented surge in initial claims.

Just 10 state localities reported a growth in initial claims.

More than 23 percent of initial claims in Hampton Roads since March 1 have been in food preparation and related occupations, while nearly 12 percent have been in office and administrative support occupations, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.

The regional percentages nearly mirror the statewide numbers, with more than 20 percent of initial claims coming in food preparation and serving related jobs, and 11.4 percent in office and administrative support jobs.

Only one-third of people receiving benefits reported industry information, though those who did showed that the accommodation and food services sector factored into 33 percent of the continuing claims, followed by health care and social assistance at 13 percent and retail trade at 9 percent.

Initial claims — Suffolk

Week ending March 14: 14

Week ending March 21: 348

Week ending March 28: 864

Week ending April 4: 1,273

Week ending April 11: 881

Week ending April 18: 718

Total since March 14: 4,098

Initial claims — Isle of Wight

Week ending March 14: 5

Week ending March 21: 127

Week ending March 28: 360

Week ending April 4: 472

Week ending April 11: 321

Week ending April 18: 243

Total since March 14: 1,528

Initial claims — Franklin

Week ending March 14: 3

Week ending March 21: 31

Week ending March 28: 103

Week ending April 4: 149

Week ending April 11: 101

Week ending April 18: 81

Total since March 14: 468

Initial claims — Southampton

Week ending March 14: 1

Week ending March 21: 23

Week ending March 28: 75

Week ending April 4: 117

Week ending April 11: 87

Week ending April 18: 56

Total since March 14: 359

Sources: Virginia Employment Commission, Old Dominion University Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy.